Rayessa and Gris live on an isolated and practically forgotten space outpost. Their main source of food is hard tack and beans, usually canned baked beans. Hard tack is a kind of hard cracker, which is made from flour, water and a little salt and it can keep for years. It’s very hard to chew, almost jaw breaking, but it is fairly nutritious and with a few vegetables grown in their makeshift hydroponics bay and vitamin pills, Rayessa and Gris survive.
Hard tack has a long history in human diet, particularly for long voyagers and during war time. It is known as sea biscuit, sea bread, ANZAC wafer, ship biscuit and cabin bread.
The recipe is
3 cups of flour
1 cup of water
And 2 teaspoons of salt.
These are mixed together to form a dough and then rolled out, then holes a pricked in them, cooking for 30 minutes on one side and then 30 minutes on the other. This simple recipe is based on the civil war recipe.
Arnott’s Recipe used in World War 1 is here at the Australian War Memorial.
This has more ingredients in it, such as powdered milk.
Cabin Bread, which is a commercial brand of hard tack is available in the Pacific Islands and is widely sold in New Zealand. You can also buy it in Australia. It looks like a large SAO biscuit but with a crunch factor of steel. Watch those teeth.
Here is a site that sells Cabin Bread in Australia. (I updated this link on 3 June 2015)
And there are other sites if you search on Cabin Bread.
This site says hard tack goes back as far as the Tudor period. See below.
However, I read that as soon as you add things like butter, spices or even more salt, it affects their shelf life and they don’t last for years. Look out for weevils and grubs! Yuk!
Check back later for photos of our attempt to make our own hard tack.